Cannon Films: The Rise and Fall
A short history by Patrick Runkle

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Note: This is an appreciation site. Cannon Films is no longer in operation.

Thursday, April 13, 2006
Longtime Cannon supporter Michael Winner, the colorful UK director of the first three Death Wish films as well as the questionable The Wicked Lady with Faye Dunaway, has just published his autobiography, Winner Takes All. I'm assuming that it has some good Cannon info in it, but I haven't found a copy in the U.S. yet.

And speaking of Death Wish, in the (somewhat) earlier days of the web circa 1997, I had a very awkwardly coded page in which I presented my favorite sound bites from the Death Wish movies, which I had digitized myself. In the spirit of that, here is a video compilation someone has artfully prepared of Bronson's Death Wish body count from all five movies. It's interesting to see the movies turn from an arguably serious look at urban violence (Death Wish) into Bronson and pals running around the ghetto with Gatling guns offing random hooligans (Death Wish 3) and then into geriatric Bronson killing guys with poisoned cannolis and exploding soccer balls (Death Wish V: The Face of Death). Death Wish V is terrible and still strikes me as a tragically blown opportunity; instead of taking the series back to its gritty beginnings, or doing something ironic, director Allan Goldstein made a direct-to-video quality stinker shot on the streets of Toronto.

And last but not least, I found an amazing court case from 1991 in New Jersey in which an accused (and later convicted) murderer allegedly claimed to his friends to take inspiration from Cannon's 10 to Midnight. The issue on appeal was whether the prosecution's decision to show parts of the film--in which an insane Gene Davis goes on various murderous rampages against women who spurn him--was prejudicial to the jury. The court found that showing the film was ok, although I bet very few of the judges on the appeals courts actually watched 10 to Midnight; I can't imagine any court wanting any portion of it to figure in a respectable legal proceeding. This is a movie whose tagline, by the way, is "Forget what's legal ... Do what's right!"

[link]    Posted 10:04 AM by Patrick.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006
As a brief update, note that the cache of late era Cannon films like American Kickboxer 1 and Hellbound that were initally released as "exclusive" DVDs from Best Buy are now available more widely. I highly recommend Fifty-Fifty, which I revisited recently and found to be better than I remembered. Also, I've received two separate notes from readers that the Michael Dudikoff/Sam Firstenberg thriller Avenging Force has been released as a Region 2 DVD in the UK. I haven't seen the movie since the mid-90s but I remember it being above average.

[link]    Posted 3:20 PM by Patrick.